Timely questions regarding colonialism and the devastating way its impacts echo down the ages are sensitively explored in Sophie Buchaillard’s new novel, This Is Not Who We Are. The author takes her own childhood memories of exchanging pen pal letters with Victoria, a young Rwandan girl caught up in the country’s genocide, as the starting point for her work.
While in reality Victoria’s fate remains unknown, within the pages of her book Buchaillard imagines what may have become of her and her family. Eschewing easy answers and neat conclusions in favour of a searing depiction of the brutal legacy that childhood trauma leaves upon a life, the novel is at its most engaging when delving deep into the psyche of Victoria’s two brothers – one of whom is mentally scarred by the systematic killings, while the other helped to carry them out.
While the story would benefit from fewer time jumps and more of a ‘show, don’t tell’ approach, it certainly succeeds in shedding fresh light on an atrocity that is far too little known in the West. That it does so through the eyes of a real girl who fell through the gaps of history affords it a poignancy that stays with you long after you’ve turned This Is Now Who Are‘s last page.
This Is Not Who We Are, Sophie Buchaillard (Seren)
Price: £9.99 Info: here
words RACHEL REES
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